My First Camping Trip, Part I.

I SURVIVED. 

Big, bold headline to start. 

I am also VERY thankful that I had not seen Deliverance prior to this trip. Although I did immediately come home and stream it on Netflix, which was probably a poor choice for future camping trips. 

You may have read last Friday that I was striking out with Jordan, Parker (my brother) and Emily (his girlfriend) on my first-ever camping trip. So much fun, so many stories. So I'll give you a play-by-play of the weekend. 

  • We depart about two hours late because Jordan had a work emergency. 
  • As we're driving, it starts to rain. So we're late and it's raining, and because we're late, we have no idea whether or not there will actually be a campsite, since you can't reserve them in advance. 
  • Jordan is a little flustered and misses our turn, so we end up driving about 4 hours instead of what would've been 3. 
  • Off to a good start.
  • Jordan had planned to arrive around 4 so that we had plenty of daylight to "make camp," which is a thing outdoorsy people say to mean "put up a tent and build a fire." 
  • Instead, we have about 10 minutes of low-level daylight left when we get to the site at about 8 PM, so Jordan deftly assembles the tent with a little help from me, then gets to work on the fire. 
  • I start to gather firewood (small sticks, medium stick, and larger logs, as I'm instructed) and immediately discover two woodland creatures living by our campsite: a giant frog and a teeny tiny garter snake. 
  • Instead of losing it re: seeing a snake, I cover my total panic by stating, "SNAKE," in a very loud, clear voice. I knew upon seeing it that it was a garter snake, but it was still two tiny, shiny eyes staring at me from within the bowels of a dead tree stump. 
  • I pick up a log and five GIANT daddy longlegs crawl off of it. 
  • I also discover with horror that the last people to use the campsite decided to use the facilities, i.e. POOP, in the middle of the dirt road leading to where we pitched our tent. 
  • Human. Poop. 
  • Their toilet paper, which also should have been disposed of, is sitting in a crumpled pile next to the HUMAN POOP. 
  • We avoid it all weekend. 
  • Jordan grabs his headlamp and starts a fire using the few scraps of wood that I gathered (and dry, because it also rained while we were driving out there - yikes).
  • Because it is SO DARK, he also has to turn the headlights of the Jeep on in order to have something to see by. 
 Why yes, it  was  dark as hell. 

Why yes, it was dark as hell. 

  • Having never been camping before, I was trying to talk myself out of being freaked out. The dark is not my favorite thing, particularly unfamiliar dark. Add "outdoor" to the unfamiliar darkness, and it's basically my own special little horror movie. 
  • To keep myself from being scared, I nervously chatter to Jordan. "Wow. This fire is impressive. Seriously! How did you learn to do that? Well, you're good at it. I feel so protected! Also, cute shirt. Did I get you that shirt? I can't remember. Blue looks good on you, though. You should wear more blue. I love you! What are you thinking about?? Do you miss Tom Hanks?" 
  • #myhusbandisasaint
  • Eventually, we got the fire going. I remembered that I actually know how to make/stoke a fire from my childhood home's wood burning fireplace, so I help Jordan and actually do a pretty damn good job taking our fire from small to medium. 
 Look at me go! 

Look at me go! 

  • Parker and Emily were driving in from Nashville, so Jordan and I had a couple of hours to ourselves, we decided to make dinner using the MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) we bought. 
  • I had a penne with marinara, Jordan had something called Chili Mac. ...mmm. 
  • I am sad to report that Jordan's was absolutely better than mine. Like, not even close. Mine tasted like what I would imagine shards of fiberglass soaked in unseasoned water would taste like. 
  • Jordan's, though the name was MUCH grosser, tasted like what I expected - not great, but definitely not terrible. He shared with me. 
  • Emily and P rolled in at about 10:45 and we got the party ROLLING! 
 They were in color in person.

They were in color in person.

  • They'd already eaten, so we toured them around the campsite (included the HUMAN POOP), they set up their tent, and we cooked some marshmallows. 
  • After some catching up and giggles, we all headed to bed to get good rest for the day ahead. 
  • We piled into our tents. Jordan's and my tent is mesh at the top, so we could see the stars We could also see the moon, which happened to be a full one that night and VERY bright. 
  • I felt stupid complaining about it, but the moon was so bright that it was as though a giant lamp was being held over my face as I slept. While Jordan slept peacefully, I flipped around in the tent all night like a fish.
  • I started with my head in one direction, then flipped so my head was at Jordan's feet to try to find some SHADE FROM THE MOON (yep, that's a real thing). 
  • At one point in the night, we hear a gunshot in the distance. I am convinced that someone is going to come shoot us to death and that I will wake up to a crazy mountain man's face grinning wildly through the mesh ceiling before he puts me out of my misery. 
  • The murderer does not show up, though several trucks drive by around 3 AM. With each passing car, I shoot up straight in my sleeping back and prepare for battle. 
  • They keep driving. 
  • I jam up my shoulder a little bit trying to sleep on my side, but it's worth it. I finally fall into a deep sleep for three hours or so, until we were all gently awoken by the sweet sounds of the crow:
  • Jordan and I got up a little ahead of P and E and got "ready" for the day. That entailed wiping down with some baby wipes, changing clothes, and brushing our teeth over the little river flowing behind our campsite. 
  • Once I was able to see everything in the daylight, I started to really appreciate where we were. Though the night had been a little sleepless, the area we had chosen was gorgeous and secluded, and it started to be exciting that we were really fending for ourselves out here.
  • Jordan got started on coffee while I started setting things out for breakfast burritos. 
  • When Parker did wake up (last, of course), he immediately asked for a marshmallow. And so his trail name was born = MARSHMALLOW. 
  • Once the whole gang was up and moving, Emily and I started preparing the potatoes and sausage for our burritos, while Parker started what would become an hours-long odyssey to start a fire with a fire-starter he'd bought at an outdoor store.
  • For anyone going on any future group camping trips, I can't recommend our breakfast highly enough. Let me just include this recipe really quick: 

One-Skillet Breakfast Burritos - AKA Camp Food: 

1 package of Andouille sausage
Carton of eggs
1 ziplock bag of chopped peppers and onions
2 russet potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese
Small tortillas

Crumble and cook the sausage while chopping the potatoes into consistent pieces. Add the potatoes to the sausage mixture and let them soften. Crack 6 eggs right into the pan and scramble the mixture together. When you're ready to serve, add chopped peppers and onions. Lay tortillas on a flat surface, scoop the sausage mixture in, and top with cheese which will melt upon sprinkling. PERFECT camping meal! 

  • Then we sat around, drinking coffee/tea and and hanging out for a while as Parker continued to work on starting a fire.  
  • Jordan made him what's called a "featherstick," and is supposed to be helpful. 
  • It turns out, starting a fire without a lighter is pretty challenging. 
  • I snuck off to go to the bathroom, i.e. tee tee in the woods, and was of course, immediately caught by a passing car. #classic 
  • After our breakfast pans were cleaned, we finished the coffee and started getting ready to go rafting on the Ocoee. 
  • We piled in the car and drove to Ducktown, which was about 15 minutes from our site. Ducktown is exactly as you would picture it: very small, very rural, lots of ducks.
  • (Just kidding about the ducks.) 
  • We get AMPED for rafting - I am the only one on our trip who's never been, and I am extremely excited. 
 Emily, I know you're going to kill me, but this picture is way too funny not to share. 

Emily, I know you're going to kill me, but this picture is way too funny not to share. 

  • We get geared up - vests, helmets, and paddles - and board the bus for our river adventure. 

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2! Spoiler alert: